Friday, 29 May 2009

On how much the French love their mothers

I'm tired, have sciatica, move like a beached whale, and feel like my entrails are being flattened. But it's ok because I live in France...

For anyone who has watched Micheal Moore's Sicko, you have a faint (surely biased) idea of the majesty that is the French health care system. What you don't know is that it's even better for expecting and young mothers (and fathers too to a certain extent).

I am 29 weeks pregnant, have had no out of pocket expenses since my 5th month (except the €2,50 I had to pay the lab when I did my glucose test because as Dr. R explains, "if they began reimbursing the glucose they use for the diabetes test, people would start getting perscriptions for their baking goods." Only in France I tell you...) and start my maternity leave today...why? Because my doctor thinks I'm too tired. Yes, I am tired so I get to stop 1 month earlier than my official leave so I can sleep, relax, read, go to the swimming pool and generally take advantage of the last 2 1/2 months of my pregnancy...

For all the bitching and moaning I can do about dog crap, inability of the French to stand in line, rudeness, the benefits I'll have for the next 3 years make up for most of it...

Officially, maternity leave lasts 16 weeks minimum with full pay (upped to 26 weeks for a 3rd child). But most doctors will tack on 2 extra weeks before and an extra month after for breast feeding. For my husband, he gets 3 days off paid leave when the baby's born plus 10 days paid leave sometime in the first 3 months. In addition, parents can opt for complete or partial parental leave and know that not only can their employer not refuse it, but they must hold your job for you at the same salary until your return.

And that's not enough you say? The government also provides a little stipend in the 8th month to help you get some baby supplies and then will help pay for your child care provider until the child's 3rd birthday.

When my mom last visited, I showed her my most recent reimbursement claim from Social Security and she was flabbergasted. The cost of my 6 month ultrasound was about €34 with no out of pocket expense for me. My monthly prenatal visit was €24 and I paid nothing. And when we went to the pharmacy to get my iron supplements and she was amazed to see that there was no copay...EVER!

So I may step in a little more dog crap at the moment because I can't see my feet, but who cares when all I have to do for the next 2 months is take care of myself and clean the occasional dog crap off my shoe?

4 comments:

Owen said...

Hi Reb, just coincidence I guess, I noticed you posted today after a while away, and seem to be the first checking in with a "Hi"...

Isn't France wonderful ?!? Me, however, I'm mad ! My two daughters were born before France created the 11 days of paternity leave for fathers after each birth, and they didn't make it retroactive, so I never got my 22 days off that any father today would get... oh well, with the 27 days of regular vacation (CP) and the 23 days of RTT (Réduction de Temps de Travail) and the 3 days of RCN (repos compensateur de nuit) plus an assortment of numerous holidays... I guess asking for more time off wouldn't impress my boss too much.

Glad to see you are back to the blog, and best wishes for a happy end of term and a smooth delivery... well, I work for a package delivery company, so people like me are always concerned about smooth delivery...

In the meanwhile, have a great weekend !

Rachael said...

I hope you can relax a bit over the next couple of months! I hate the end of pregnancy.

Don't forget the CAF! You'll get some money from them once you have two kiddos, regardless of your financial situation.

When I think about the problems in the US system, after living here for eight years, it's the costs spiralling out of control that I think needs to be addressed before national health insurance. I tried to see a non-HMO-affiliated doctor outside of Boston three years ago and couldn't see paying $200 just to see the doc.

And happy belated third birthday to your daughter!

La Framéricaine said...

I'm soooo happy to see your writing on the French health system because I'm moving to France simply to pave the way for a civilized elderhood for my husband, who is French and 72 years old, who has lived in the USA for 20 years. If we stay here, in SoCal, it's cat food entrées, dog food paté, and a ROSS cart with a blue tarp.

You'd think Obama was trying to get the Lilliput-mericans to drink cyanide-laced, red, white, and blue Kool-Aid the way they are responding to the concept of a bastardized version of universal health for the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Congratulations on all your good fortune!

Reb said...

It is amazing how resistant Americans are to a more socialized healthcare system. I get the feeling that people are scared of losing their independence (which isn't the case). but what they don't realize is how much they will gain in terms of healthier living, less worries and less costs in the end...

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